UK ministers drop plans for PS1,000 cash bond for foreign relatives

June 26th, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London , June 26 (ANI): In a new move, UK ministers have scraped off a plan that required Britons to pay a cash bond of 1000 pounds for foreign relatives visiting the country.

They also proposed for two new types of business visa for sports stars that not only included professional footballers coming to play in a tournament for a short time, but also entertainers.

Last December, it was immigration minister Liam Byrne, who floated the idea of a “financial security,” but did not name the amount to be paid. But the word spread through officials that the bond was expected to be set at about 1,000 pounds per visitor.

In fact, a similar plan was proposed in 2000, in which the visitor was to pay a 3,000 pounds bond. But it also met with the same fate due to protests of “discrimination” from Labour backbenchers and the Asian community.

However, the bonds were not there in Home Office proposals, but ministers started working towards a new system of “sponsored family visitor visas”.

Under this system, those Britons who sponsor a family member would face jail sentence of to 14 years or a 5,000 pounds fine, if the relative stays for too long.

This plan would take into account immediate family members to come to the UK as well as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and first cousins.

Under the new scheme, British relatives will need to be licensed to sponsor family members, and will have a duty to guarantee their visitors leave the country before the visa expires.

“The changes will help create a fairer Britain with fair treatment for those who play by the rules, but tough action against those who break the law. We want the UK to stay open and attractive for both business and visitors. But at the same time we are determined to deliver a system of border security which is among the most secure in the world.” The Telegraph quoted Byrne, as saying.

Right now, foreign family members visit UK under general tourist visas and the Conservatives have claimed that the U-turn was “yet another example of the government talking tough on immigration but having to back down”.

“At the time we said a bond scheme was unfair and unworkable, something the government has finally come to realise. However we do need safeguards against visitors who overstay. That is why we have long suggested making sponsors legally responsible for visitors leaving when their visa expires, said Damian Green, the shadow Immigration minister. (ANI)

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